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A sure-handed fiction debut takes a darkly comic and unsettling look at the quest for adventure in exotic lands
In a last-ditch effort to save their marriage, Conrad and Lucy Shermer embark on a second honeymoon in the fashionably exotic--and politically volatile--Southeast Asian nation of Tambralinga. They soon separate, Lucy (guidebook in hand) in quest of authentic cultural experience on the mainland while Conrad searches a tourist island for an infamous brothel. From the outset, both expeditions are in danger of devolving into farce. Conrad, torn between his staid, paternal nature and his desire to play the libertine in this tropical setting, finds himself caught in a strange vortex of sexual and power politics, stumbling upon "authentic" experiences he'd sought to avoid. At the same time, Lucy's internal compass sends her on adventures quite beyond the parameters of her carefully plotted itinerary, forcing her to confront realities at odds with the romantic portrait promoted by her guidebook.
In this utterly unpredictable first novel, Scott Landers exposes with wry wit our cherished illusions about journeys of self-discovery and explores the changes that really do happen when we venture into the unknown.
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Scott Landers's short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals. An extensive traveler, he lives in northern California.
This ambitious first novel invites comparisons with Alex Garland's The Beach, though it is more grown-up and better written. Like Garland, Landers puts dissatisfied Westerners seeking fulfillment in a deceptively idyllic Southeast Asia, in this case the fictional island of Tambralinga. At the center is Conrad, a meek computer systems analyst on a desperate second honeymoon with Lucy, who's furious at him for losing her all-important guidebook. Fearing "that he was missing it, that better half of existence, the throbbing center of what it meant to be alive," Conrad heads to a brothel on another island, while Lucy finds the guidebook and embarks on her own adventure. The couple's estrangement permits Landers to detail well-rendered but fairly typical highlights of their tours: Buddhist monks with mystical powers, star-lit beach trysts, secret swimming spots, prostitution and drug use, all set against the background of a hazily sketched political-religious conflict. But if Landers sometimes succumbs to travel-novel clichés, his Conrad is older and more complex, imbued with a welcome skepticism—a tired detachment that evokes Fowler from The Quiet American—about the "appallingly deliberate" nature of adventure tourism in Asia. Toward the end, thoughtfulness gives way to a flurry of action and implausible coincidences. But readers will find the ride, half jungle cruise and half roller coaster, worth the price of admission.
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Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. 1st Edition. 0374130213 Hard Cover. As New/As New. First Edition, First Print. Seller Inventory # 007724
Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004. Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # Q-0374130213